While I hold governments in contempt for most things relating to our true health and wellbeing, both at home in the UK and the USA they have done a lot of research about how much vitamins and minerals we should consume on a daily basis. I guess it might be a case of them covering their backside, allowing them to later take a stance of ‘we told you so’.

Compiled in the USA by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, their website says on the matter, “DRI is the general term used for a set of reference values used to plan and assess nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values, which vary by age and gender, include: Recommended Dietary

Allowance (RDA): average daily level of intake suf – cient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97–98%) healthy people”. When there is insuf cient evidence to establish an RDA, they recommend an Adequate Intake (AI). For evaluating macronutrients In the UK and Europe we have RIs (Reference In-takes), which have replaced GDAs (Guideline Daily Amounts). When it comes to measuring vitamins and minerals, in Europe you will now often nd NRV values. But what is NRV? Set by a panel of EU nutritional experts, Nutritional Reference Values, repre- sent the required intake levels of all vitamins and a selection of minerals to help prevent de ciencies, in the vast majority of healthy people in Europe.

Just like we separate vitamins into two separate groups – water-soluble or fat-soluble – we are going to do the same with minerals. Let me use another gemstone analogy. Nature normally creates gemstones by blending a few minerals and elements together, but sapphires, rubies, emeralds and many other gemstones would be colourless if nature didn’t add a tiny pinch of special minerals known as trace elements to the cocktail while they were forming. Just like adding a minute droplet of blackcurrant juice into a glass of water can change the colour of the entire glass, without nature’s droplet of chromium both emeralds and rubies would have remained colourless. The same goes for the minerals that we need in our diet. Some we need in big measures, normally milligrams (mg), as these are the building blocks on which some bodily functions are cemented, while others just tiny trace elements in a gemstone (micrograms, or mcg) are required.

Mineral measurements: a milligram (mg) is one thousandth of a gram (g) and a micro- gram (mcg) is 1 millionth of a gram.